Weather Updates

Moms and premature babies attend shower together

Twenty-three-month-old IllianPetropoulos her twsister GeorgiGurnee were two four special guests Saturday's 'Baby Shower' for babies need held VistHospital East Waukegan.

Twenty-three-month-old, Illiana Petropoulos and her twin sister, Georgia, of Gurnee were two of the four special guests at Saturday's "Baby Shower" for babies in need, held at the Vista Hospital East, in Waukegan. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media

storyidforme: 46184774
tmspicid: 17155647
fileheaderid: 7730079


Any infant born at 37 weeks or earlier is premature (full term is 40 weeks)

1 in 8 every infant born in the U.S. is premature

Average of 500,000 premature babies born annually in the U.S.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: May 17, 2013 2:15AM

Typically, an expectant mother attends her baby shower with family and friends. At a unique event held Saturday, mother and baby were able to enjoy the baby shower together.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.’s Lake County chapter, Sigma Phi Zeta, hosted a baby shower for premature babies and their families at Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan. Four premature babies and their families attended, said Kim Woods, Sigma Phi Zeta Chapter spokeswoman.

“We want the children and parents to feel like this is a regular baby shower. We have our sorority sisters bring gifts ... we want (guests) to feel like this is a normal baby shower with their families. Parents and babies are considered our extended family,” Woods said.

Premature babies are born at 37 weeks or earlier. A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks. The earlier a baby is born, the more severe health problems the babies face, according to Centers for Disease Control.

Some of the babies at the sorority’s baby shower have developmental disabilities, Woods said. One of the babies was born weighing just five ounces, and the baby at the shower smiling with the others.

“These are children who were born against the odds and they beat the odds and they are able to enjoy their own baby shower,” Woods said. “These are kids who under any other circumstances, were not given a license to survive. They have the opportunity not only to be there at their shower but to enjoy it. To me, that makes it even more special.”

About 25 attendees enjoyed food, games and cake. One of the sorority members works with mothers of premature babies through the Lake County Health Department. This sorority member finds mothers of premature babies to invite them to the shower, Woods said.

Ten to 15 of the sorority’s 30 members attended the shower, Woods said. The shower for premature babies is one of Sigma Phi Zeta’s signature events.

The Lake County chapter has been established for about 10 years, which is how long they have hosted the premature baby shower event, Woods said.

The national sorority was started in 1920 with a service mission. Unlike some sororities, membership continues past college. The Lake County chapter is a graduate chapter. Members come from different universities and continue to serve the community, Woods said.

They work closely with March of Dimes, the national charity that assists mothers and researches problems threatening the health of babies.

This work was one of the reasons that Woods joined the sorority.

They are working with Vista to host an even larger baby shower this November.

“We want to have a community-wide baby shower, so we’re upping the ante even more. We want to have more children come. This will be the first community-wide shower,” Woods said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.